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Russia Hits EU Officials, Entities With Tit-For-Tat Navalny Sanctions

Russia says it has expanded its list of European Union officials barred from the country in response to the bloc’s “unacceptable” decision to place travel bans on Russian officials over the poisoning of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

The Foreign Ministry in Moscow “decided to expand the list of representatives of EU member states and institutions who will be denied entry to the Russian Federation,” the ministry said in a statement on December 22, adding that those targeted are held “responsible for promoting anti-Russian sanctions initiatives within the framework of the European Union.”

It did not name the officials but said it had called in the heads of the diplomatic missions of Germany, France, and Sweden, as well as to the EU delegation in Moscow to inform them of the decision.

Navalny was airlifted to Germany for treatment in August after collapsing on a plane in Russia.

Laboratories in Germany, France, and Sweden later concluded that the leading Kremlin critic and anti-corruption campaigner was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent.

The EU and Britain in mid-October imposed asset freezes and travel bans against six senior Russian officials and a state scientific research center for the “attempted assassination.”

Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have denied involvement in the poisoning.

However, on December 21, Navalny released a 49-minute phone call with a Russian agent who was apparently duped into revealing how the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) committed the attack.

The agent, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, inadvertently made the admission during the call with Navalny, who was posing as a high-ranking security official conducting a debriefing on the August attack in the Siberian city of Tomsk.

During the call, which used software to make it appear it originated from an FSB phone line, Kudryavtsev admits that Russian security officials put the Novichok chemical nerve agent in Navalny’s underwear, expecting it would kill the 44-year-old while on a flight to Moscow from Tomsk.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on December 22 said Navalny’s attempts to “discredit” the FSB will fail.

Peskov said that the opposition leader is a “sick” man who exhibited clear “traits of megalomania” and has “delusions of persecution.”

Navalny fell violently ill on the flight shortly after takeoff, prompting the crew to make an emergency landing in the city of Omsk. He was hospitalized for days before being flown to Berlin, where doctors concluded that he had been poisoned with a nerve agent.

He is still in Germany recovering from the attack.

Reference